Several times per year we hear of an announcement from a major retail chain that they will undergo a "readjustment" or a "restructuring" because of sagging profits. What these sterilized terms mean is that the company will be shuttering stores across the nation. While the "restructuring" bug has hit a myriad of these retail chains, there is one corporation that it has not claimed: the ubiquitous Walmart. While their competitors weed out their under performing stores, Walmart seems to keep growing bigger and bigger. As of today, they have over 8,500 stores in 15 countries!
But, according to Joshua Holland, everything isn't completely rosy in the land of Walmart.
In a consumer-driven economy, you can only squeeze ordinary working people so far before they're no longer able to buy the goods and services required to keep the ship afloat.
Walmart may be learning that simple truth the hard way. On Friday, Bloomberg reported a series of emails between company executives freaking out over the super-store's dismal start to the new year. “Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S.,” wrote Cameron Geiger, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. Replenishment. “Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?” Another exec, Jerry Murray, Walmart’s vice president of finance and logistics, described the latest sales figures as, “the worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”
While this may be nothing more than a momentary blip that will be laughed about by Walmart execs later this year, it stands to reason that sooner or later Walmart will be forced to contract. Nothing grows forever. At some point, everything gets too big for its own britches and starts to implode upon itself.
When I think of Walmart, I tend to think of the oft-quoted statement by author Edward Abbey: Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
In my mind's eye, Walmart is a cancer for local communities, workers, the environment and the world, in general. It has become far too wealthy and powerful through ruthless cutthroat tactics. It buys politicians by the bucket load and it has become very adept at skirting or demanding exceptions to a wide variety of regulations and laws. One of its worst sins is that it plays off one community against another and leaves the taxpayers of the "winner" subsidizing the corporate headquarters with millions of dollars in giveaways.
Before I leave this earth, one of my hopes is that Walmart will announce a great "restructuring." Will it happen in my lifetime? One can always dream!